Jonathan Weisman and Thomas E. Ricks report on the new Democratic war funding strategy in the House.
House Democratic leaders are coming together around legislation that would fund the war through September but would withhold more than half of those funds until July, when Bush would have to report on the Iraqi government's progress toward benchmarks such as quelling sectarian violence, disarming militias and sharing oil revenue equitably. Congress would then have to vote in late July to release the remaining funds...
The new House proposal would immediately provide about $43 billion of the $95.5 billion the administration says it needs to keep the war going through Sept. 30. That infusion would come with language establishing benchmarks of success for the Iraqi government, and it is likely to include tougher standards for resting, training and equipping troops. Binding timelines for troop withdrawals would be dropped to try to win Republican support and avoid a second veto.
The remaining $52.5 billion in the bill would be contingent on a second vote in late July, after the administration's progress report.
I like this strategy very much. It is more imaginative than anything I have come up with and anything I have noticed bandied about the internets. It should easily pass the House. In the Senate?
The bill, which could come to a House vote as early as Friday, faces significant obstacles in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) wants to allow the House debate to unfold, in part to see whether the plan will appeal to Republicans.
I don't think we need to worry too much about the Senate. It should pass. We may have some pesky amendments to overcome, but it should pass.
This is what I wanted. Make the President keep coming back for more money and in a weaker position each time. Combined with standards on rest, equipment, and training for the troops, the bill will essentially end the war by the so-called 'slow bleed' approach. And, yet, it is flexible enough to allow the military to plan ahead and for Congress to react to unforeseen circumstances.
...White House spokesman Tony Snow pronounced the bill "not helpful."
Kudos to the Democratic leadership. This is good thinking.